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Are UX Design Bootcamps worth it?

education how to Jun 11, 2021

In order to become a UX designer, like with any career, you are going to need some training. You should have a good understanding of what a UX designer does. You’ll need to learn how to do tasks from product research to wireframing to user testing. Also, in order to truly become a UX designer, you actually need to land a job!

So, what is the best way to become a UX designer? What about a masters degree? What about free courses? What about bootcamps? 

Bootcamps are courses that are shorter and cheaper than grad school but longer and more expensive than free-low cost courses. But are UX design bootcamps worth it?

The Guac is here to answer your questions and give you our take on if UX design bootcamps are worth it. Grab your chips and let's dig in!

What About a Masters Degree in UX Design?

Getting a masters degree is the traditional way to specialize in a field and can help you stand apart from others in your field when applying for jobs. But in this day and age, grad school is not necessary for you to begin your career as a UX designer.

For one thing, getting a masters is going to cost you upwards of $30,000 for tuition alone. You will also need to factor in the cost for books, traveling and living expenses if you do not have the option to live with your parents. That is a lot of money to give out at the early stages of your career.

Going to grad school is also going to cost you a lot in terms of time. You will have to apply to many programs to ensure that you get accepted. Grad school programs usually require 1-3 years of study. Those are years that you could be using to get experience in the UX design industry and making money as a UX designer.

Yes, grad school can definitely help you out when beginning a career as a UX designer. Your master’s degree can lead to connections with alumni or employers that can land you a job. However, as we will discuss, there are other ways to build your network without going into debt and taking so much of your time.


What About Free UX Design Courses?

You can learn a lot for free online. Just go to YouTube and type in UX design and you will find tons of videos with tons of information. There are also affordable courses on platforms like Udemy, where you can pay around $15 for a UX/UI design course for 3 hours worth of video lessons. 

You may be thinking: bingo! That sounds like the perfect fit: Short and cheap! 

We hate to take the guac out of your mole, but there are some downsides when it comes to free-low cost courses.

You are not going to get much guidance or mentorship when it comes to these courses. You are in it alone. Having less connections or help when starting out in a new industry makes building a successful career all the more challenging. However, every student is different. Some people do not need that extra push or help from a mentor. You know yourself best. If you are self motivated and passionate enough about learning UX design, you could use these courses to your benefit.

Another downsided is that you will typically have nothing to show off your skills as a UX designer after you take these courses. You probably will just have a notebook full of notes on what to do, but nothing to show for it because you never actually implemented any designs. If you do not have any projects that you can use to build your portfolio, an employer is probably going to look for someone else who can prove their UX design capabilities. That’s not to say that you cannot find a way to build your portfolio on your own. There are free courses that can show you how. It could be more work on your part, but if you are willing it’s definitely possible!

Another setback with these free-low cost courses is there is often no curriculum. It is easy to get stuck in that hole, watching video after video about UX design. The problem is you will never know when you have learned everything you need to learn to start a career as a UX designer. Because there is no plan or outline you are following, these courses can take an endless amount of time. However if you know you are a disciplined student that can come up with your own study plan using free courses, give it a try and see how it goes! 

The bottom line with free-low cost courses is that they are good for getting your feet wet when it comes to UX design. You can use these courses to see if UX design is something you really want to do.  Every student is different but when it comes to preparing you for a career and helping you land your dream job, bootcamps may be a more reliable option. Of course you can do anything you put your mind to if you stick with it. The best plan is to start learning!


Why We Recommend Bootcamps

1. Low cost

As we have discussed, master’s degrees may provide you with a good education and networks but they cost a lot of money. Free or low-cost courses may be cheap, but they will not prepare you for a career as a UX designer. Bootcamps will teach you everything you need to know to start out as a UX designer and can get you hired. Most bootcamps can range anywhere from $300- $15,000 which is still a lot less than grad school.

2. Shorter period of time

Bootcamps take a lot less time to complete than grad school, but enough time to make sure you learn UX design. Instead of taking years, it will take you weeks to months to become a UX designer. Most bootcamp lengths range from 6 weeks - 10 months. With bootcamps, you won't be stuck in a library taking notes for years. You can be out in the field actually working as a UX designer in under a year. 

3. Strong support network

One of the biggest advantages of UX design bootcamps is the support network they provide. You may worry that because most of these bootcamps are online, you won’t get the same attention you would if you attend grad school. Actually, a good UX design bootcamp offers mentorship throughout your coursework. You can get guidance and feedback on your work which will help you improve. You can also build a network with other students taking the course and support each other as you learn.

4. Build a portfolio

Good UX design bootcamps will teach you the fundamentals and help you apply them to projects. Bootcamps will help you build a portfolio with your projects that you can show to potential employers. This portfolio will prove that you are a competent UX designer, which is essential for landing that first UX design job.

5. Career help

UX design bootcamps can also provide career help. When it comes time to apply for jobs they don’t just say, good luck! A good UX bootcamp will connect you to employers, prepare you for interviews, and help with your resume. Bootcamps are designed to not just teach you what you need to know to be a UX designer, but to actually help you become one.


How to Decide if a Bootcamp is Worth It

1. Does the bootcamp fit with your budget?

As we already mentioned, bootcamps range in price. Some are more expensive than others and can really put a dent in your wallet. You do not want to go into debt when you are just starting out your UX design journey. 

Research the best UX design bootcamps and make sure you can justify the cost of picking one bootcamp over the other. There are a lot of bootcamps out there. The chances are you will find one within your budget that provides everything you're looking for.

2. Does it fit with your timeline?

Everyone’s timeline is going to be different when it comes to starting a career. Some people have the time and discipline to dedicate themselves to a course that is going to last months. Some people are itching to get out there and want to find a course that lasts only several weeks.

It sounds like longer courses could be better. You would learn more and be better prepared for a job, right? That is not necessarily true. The problem with longer courses is, it may take longer to see progress. Students can lose momentum and not finish the course.

With shorter bootcamps, you apply what you learn quickly. You learn what you need to know in just a shorter amount of time. You develop projects and build your portfolio so you are hirable by the end of those 8-16 weeks. 

At the end of the day, find a bootcamp that fits best with your personal timeline. If a program does not work with your schedule, chances are you will have trouble completing the course. That would defeat the purpose of choosing a bootcamp to learn UX design.

3. How much mentorship and guidance do you feel you need?

Many bootcamps offer some form of mentorship, but not all do. If they do offer mentorship, it is often at varying levels. Some UX bootcamps offer unlimited mentorship, like Avocademy, while some only offer one session per week. If you are a student that needs guidance and personalized feedback, you want to make sure you choose a bootcamp that will provide consistent guidance.

When it comes to learning UX design, students typically benefit from having a mentor. However, some people can do fine on their own. You know yourself best. Find a bootcamp that will help you succeed.

4. Do you need a program with a strong community?

Some UX design bootcamps have a stronger community feel than others. Many programs will have you work with other UX design students or hold speaker events that bring people in the program together. If having a strong community of fellow designers that can support you when the going gets tough is important to you, find a bootcamp that has this quality.

5. How will this bootcamp help you land a job in the real world? 

At the end of the day, your goal is probably to land a job as a UX designer. You are probably not just taking this course for funsies. A good UX bootcamp will connect you with employers and provide career support at the end of or even after the course. 

Many bootcamps provide in-course projects that you can add to your portfolio, but it is harder to find bootcamps that can fill your portfolio with real world projects. 

Look for bootcamps that offer real world experience if you really want to stand out to employers.

You want to choose a bootcamp that will make you feel confident when applying to jobs. You want to feel and be ready for a life as a UX designer.


Are UX Design Bootcamps Worth it?

It is up to you to decide what path is best for you. We think bootcamps are worth it, but only you can decide what works best for your time, budget, and goals!  If you are ready to work hard and are passionate about pursuing a career in UX design, bootcamps are a pretty great place to start.

Bootcamps cost less of your time and money. They can prepare you for a job in the real world by helping you build your UX design portfolio. Bootcamps can help you land your first UX design job.

What are you waiting for? Start your UX design journey today! Schedule a free mentoring session with a UX designer today!


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